Whenever an Ehrman needlepoint catalogue or brochure arrives, I delight in choosing - if not actually buying - future projects, and they'll be a long way in the future, if my rate of progress on current canvases is anything to go by ... Anyway, among their current sale kits are several by Raymond Honeyman whose use of strong, stylised flower motifs (as in Irises, above) and repeating pattern appeals to me. This post includes a video in which he talks about his influences and working methods.
Flora Shedden was the youngest ever contestant when she took part in the 2015 Great British Bake Off. She comes from my parents' neck-of-the-woods in Perthshire, so as the local girl we were cheering her on. She reached the semi-final in fine style and impressed everyone with her skill, creativity, and flair under pressure.
Flora's first book, Gatherings, is out today, but I was able to pick up a copy in Topping & Co., St. Andrews at the weekend so I've had a good look at it already and it's excellent - full of delicious-looking, easily-made food. Thus far we've made the Slow Roast Pork Belly with Mustard Mash and Onions, and the Greens, Quinoa and Black Onion Seed Salad, both dishes worth repeating soon.
The book is subtitled 'Recipes for Feasts Great and Small', and described as "a mixture of modern dishes, staple snacks, salads and sides, interesting bakes, and puddings perfect to end a feast with. Nothing overly fussy or complicated, just tasty, pretty plates of food." Visually it's a delight, but it's a work of substance as well as style, a book I'm keen to cook more from.
Well done to Flora for her debut, and good luck to her for the forthcoming opening of her shop in Dunkeld - I'm looking forward to being a customer.
This is the Quill shawl by Helen Stewart. It "features stripes like the lines of a letter on a parchment page and a lace border inspired by feathers."
I've used very lovely Triskelion Yarn Olwen DK (100% Extrafine Falklands Merino) in 'Oat', for the 'parchment', and 'Landwight', for the lines, with the contrast stripes and feathery border in Hedgehog Fibres Merino Singles 'Truffle'. All the details are here.
It's a big piece, roughly 25" down the spine and 70" across the wingspan, so perfect for writers in freezing garrets.
I'm enjoying the comments on Sunday's post about sightings of famous people. Regarding Lucille's Michael Palin claim, as I've mentioned here before, I not only saw him in a restaurant in London but spoke to him. This was an uncharacteristic act of boldness on my part and I still don't know what came over me as I'm the world's worst at pushing myself forward, but I spotted him across the room, wrote a quick note of appreciation which I asked the waitress to deliver, he gave me a wave in reply, and then I stopped for a quick word on my way out - he was, as you would expect, just lovely.
I once stood a few feet from the Queen at the Badminton Horse Trials, waited behind Dave Allen in a baker's shop in Henley, had dinner at the table next to Sean Connery's, on one occasion, Richard Attenborough's on another, and the Princess Royal's, at a ball. Tom Stoppard sat in front of me at an Edinburgh Festival performance of one of his plays, and I saw Richard Briers at a bus stop near my house when he was appearing here too, but as to meeting the great and the good, it's writers I've notched up most, interviewing them in person or by phone, being introduced at publishing events and book launches.
It's said that you should never meet your heroes for disappointment surely follows. I've not yet been in a position to put that to the test (though there are one or two people I'd be willing to take the chance with); how about you?
I'm always behind the times where films and television programmes are concerned, so it has taken me until now to see (via Netflix) the 2014 release The Theory of Everything.
I loved it.
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are tremendous.
Watch it if you can.
On a vaguely related note, while queuing at the checkout in our local supermarket the other day I noticed that the gentleman in front of us had a familiar face. It quickly dawned on me that it was none other than Peter Higgs, though as most of his shopping was in bags by this stage I can't tell you what cerebral sustenance this man of mighty brain was buying.
"If poverty had been the keynote of the convent buildings, its garden was redolent of wealth. There was, even here, certain evidence of monastic austerity, in that no flowers grew for the sake of their beauty alone, but the formal beds beneath the peach trees were rich with thyme and lavender and purple rosemary, while the feet of the pear and apple trees, espaliered on the surrounding walls, stood deep in a silver drift of sage. A row of apricot trees lent support to a disciplined riot of vines; below it, in careful ranks, fading stems were weighted with the fabulous red of tomatoes. There was even a pair of orange trees, standing sentinel at the end of a box-bordered path, looking, with their symmetrical heads hung with glossy green fruit, for all the world like guardians of some fantastic gateway to fairytale, or to the herb-garden pictured on some faded medieval page ... basil, vervain, borage; saffron, hyssop, juniper; violet for heart's-ease, and blue clary and the little lemon thyme ... Over all hung the scent of spices and warm earth, and the resinous smell of the near pine-woods mingled sleepily with the fragrance of lavender. Not a bird sang, but the air was loud with bees."
The picture is of my own garden in summer - appropriate in once sense as my house used to be a convent, although what you see there owes more to these people than to the Sisters who lived here once upon a time.